The Prophet on the Resurrection—Directions Given as to the Labors of the Twelve et al.—The Kinderhook Plates—First Issue of “The Nauvoo Neighbor”—New Mission Appointments.
Saturday, April 15, 1843.—Attended court-martial which was held at my house.
In the evening rode out in my carriage with Emma.
A conference was held at Vinalhaven, Fox Island, Maine, when four branches, consisting of one hundred and twenty-eight members, four elders, five priests, six teachers and three deacons, were represented. Quite a number have been recently baptized.
Sunday, 16—Meeting at the Temple at 10 a.m. I read Brother Parley P. Pratt’s letter to the editor of the Times and Seasons, concerning the death of Lorenzo Dow Barnes, who died in England, December 20, 1842; and I remarked that I read it because it was so appropriate to all who had died in the faith. [The following was reported by W. Richards and W. Woodruff.]
Remarks of the Prophet on the Death of Lorenzo D. Barnes—The Resurrection.
Almost all who have fallen in these last days in the Church have fallen in a strange land. This is a strange land to those who have come from a distance.
We should cultivate sympathy for the afflicted among us. If there is a place on earth where men should cultivate the spirit and pour in the oil and wine in the bosoms of the afflicted, it is in this place; and this spirit is manifest here; and although a stranger and afflicted when he arrives, he finds a brother and a friend ready to administer to his necessities.
I would esteem it one of the greatest blessings, if I am to be afflicted in this world to have my lot cast where I can find brothers and friends all around me. But this is not the thing I referred to: it is to have the privilege of having our dead buried on the land where God has appointed to gather His Saints together, and where there will be none but Saints, where they may have the privilege of laying their bodies where the Son of Man will make His appearance, and where they may hear the sound of the trump that shall call them forth to behold Him, that in the morn of the resurrection they may come forth in a body, and come up out of their graves and strike hands immediately in eternal glory and felicity, rather than be scattered thousands of miles apart. There is something good and sacred to me in this thing. The place where a man is buried is sacred to me. This subject is made mention of in the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. Even to the aborigines of this land, the burying places of their fathers are more sacred than anything else.
When I heard of the death of our beloved Brother Barnes, it would not have affected me so much, if I had the opportunity of burying him in the land of Zion.
I believe those who have buried their friends here, their condition is enviable. Look at Jacob and Joseph in Egypt, how they required their friends to bury them in the tomb of their fathers. See the expense which attended the embalming and the going up of the great company to the burial.
It has always been considered a great calamity not to obtain an honorable burial: and one of the greatest curses the ancient prophets could put on any man, was that he should go without a burial.
I have said, Father, I desire to die here among the Saints. But if this is not Thy will, and I go hence and die, wilt thou find some kind friend to bring my body back, and gather my friends who have fallen in foreign lands, and bring them up hither, that we may all lie together.
I will tell you what I want. If tomorrow I shall be called to lie in yonder tomb. in the morning of the resurrection let me strike hands with my father, and cry, “My father,” and he will say, “My son, my son,” as soon as the rock rends and before we come out of our graves.
And may we contemplate these things so? Yes, if we learn how to live and how to die. When we lie down we contemplate how we may rise in the morning; and it is pleasing for friends to lie down together, locked in the arms of love, to sleep and wake in each other’s embrace and renew their conversation.
Would you think it strange if I relate what I have seen in vision in relation to this interesting theme? Those who have died in Jesus Christ may expect to enter into all that fruition of joy when they come forth, which they possessed or anticipated here.
So plain was the vision, that I actually saw men, before they had ascended from the tomb, as though they were getting up slowly. They took each other by the hand and said to each other, “My father, my son, my mother, my daughter, my brother, my sister.” And when the voice calls for the dead to arise, suppose I am laid by the side of my father, what would be the first joy of my heart? To meet my father, my mother, my brother, my sister; and when they are by my side, I embrace them and they me.
It is my meditation all the day, and more than my meat and drink, to know how I shall make the Saints of God comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind.
Oh! how I would delight to bring before you things which you never thought of! But poverty and the cares of the world prevent. But I am glad I have the privilege of communicating to you some things which, if grasped closely, will be a help to you when earthquakes bellow, the clouds gather, the lightnings flash, and the storms are ready to burst upon you like peals of thunder. Lay hold of these things and let not your knees or joints tremble, nor your hearts faint; and then what can earthquakes, wars and tornadoes do? Nothing. All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.
More painful to me are the thoughts of annihilation than death. If I have no expectation of seeing my father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends again, my heart would burst in a moment, and I should go down to my grave.
The expectation of seeing my friends in the morning of the resurrection cheers my soul and makes me bear up against the evils of life. It is like their taking a long journey, and on their return we meet them with increased joy.
God has revealed His Son from the heavens and the doctrine of the resurrection also; and we have a knowledge that those we bury here God will bring up again, clothed upon and quickened by the Spirit of the great God; and what mattereth it whether we lay them down, or we lay down with them, when we can keep them no longer? Let these truths sink down in our hearts, that we may even here begin to enjoy that which shall be in full hereafter.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to Almighty God, that rays of light begin to burst forth upon us even now. I cannot find words in which to express myself. I am not learned, but I have as good feelings as any man.
O that I had the language of the archangel to express my feelings once to my friends! But I never expect to in this life. When others rejoice, I rejoice; when they mourn, I mourn.
To Marcellus Bates let me administer comfort. You shall soon have the company of your companion in a world of glory, and the friends of Brother Barnes and all the Saints who are mourning. This has been a warning voice to us all to be sober and diligent and lay aside mirth, vanity and folly, and to be prepared to die tomorrow. [President Smith preached about two hours.]
Erastus Snow said that he was a boarder with President Joseph Smith the first week he was in Nauvoo: he helped to carry the chain for the surveyor, and helped to lay out the first city lot.
President Joseph Smith said: “As president of this house, I forbid any man leaving just as we are going to close the meeting. He is no gentleman who will do it. I don’t care who does it, even if it were the king of England. I forbid it.
Dismissed with singing, and prayer by John Taylor.
I received a letter from the postoffice, of which the following is a copy:
Washington, D.C., March 31, 1841.
Sir:—You stand accused of high treason. You will deliver yourself up to the governor at Springfield, Illinois, in order to be tried before the Supreme Court of the United States next term.
The governor of Illinois will be directed to take you in custody, if you will not deliver yourself up.
The president will issue a proclamation against you, if you obey not this order by May 1, 1843.
Hugh L. Legare,
Joseph Smith, Esq.
This letter was superscribed, “By order of J. Tyler, President of the United States.”
I insert this letter in my history to show a specimen of the many despicable falsehoods resorted to by the enemies of the truth to annoy me and my friends.
Monday, 17.—Rain last night, green grass begins to appear.
Sundry Movements of the Prophet.
Walked out in the city with William Clayton. Visited Elder John Taylor, and gave him some instructions about the letter purporting to come from Attorney-General Legare, also called on Samuel Bennett in relation to the house he lived in, above the old burying ground; returned home, and conversed with Elder Erastus Snow. Received from Parley P. Pratt fifty gold sovereigns for the Temple and Nauvoo House; also received eighty-seven pounds from the English brethren for land. At half-past five p.m., called at the printing office for a short time, when I returned home and listened to the reading of a synopsis of my sermon of last Sabbath.
Advices from Guadeloupe state that up to the 25th of March forty-five hundred bodies had been dug out of the ruins of Point-a-Pitre, and twenty-two hundred of the wounded by the late earthquake were in the hospital at Basse-Terre, and that five other shocks had been subsequently felt.
John C. Bennett Lecturing.
Elder E. M. Webb writes that he has been laboring with success in several counties in Michigan, when he came to Comstock, in Kalamazoo county, Dr. John C. Bennett was lecturing in Kalamazoo, the shire town, and was told that there was a Mormon Elder in the neighborhood. Bennett said, “That is one of Joe Smith’s destroying angels, who is come to kill me;” and he left in such haste that he forgot to pay his tavern bill, also the poor Presbyterians for lighting and warming the house for him. Elder Webb commenced preaching there, baptized twenty-four and organized a branch.
One hundred barrels, or ten thousand pounds of gunpowder were deposited in fifteen separate chambers and simultaneously fired, with complete success, in the Abbot’s Cliff, Dover, England.
Tuesday, 18.—Signed an appointment to John F. Cowan of Shokoquon, as one of my aides-de-camp, as a lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo Legion, and conversed with him.
Rode out on the prairie. Sold one hundred and thirty acres of land to the English brethren and took a bond from John T. Barnett for two lots.
Signed a transcript of the mayor’s docket, Thompson vs. Dixon.
Visit Pottawatamie Indians.
In the evening had a talk with three Indian chiefs, who had come as a delegation from the Pottawatamie tribe, who complained of having their cattle, horses, &c., stolen. They were much troubled, and wanted to know what they should do. They had borne their grievances patiently. The quorum of the Twelve met in my office.
Wednesday, 19.—Went to the office at nine o’clock, to attend a municipal court in case of Dana vs. Dr. Brink, on appeal from mayor’s decision of March 10.
Mayor’s Court at Nauvoo.
At half past nine called to order and issued an attachment against William Marks, George W. Harris, Orson Spencer, Gustavus Hills, Daniel H. Wells, Hiram Kimball, and Newel K. Whitney, associate-justices, to bring them before the court forthwith to answer for contempt. Aldermen Harris, Spencer, Hills and Whitney appeared, and were excused upon condition of their paying the costs of attachment and marshal’s fees. Daniel H. Wells was excused on account of absence from the city.
Half-past twelve p.m. court opened, original papers being called for. The clerk (James Sloan) inquired if the execution would issue from the court. “Sit down,” said the mayor, “and attend to your own business. If anything is wanted you will be told time enough.” Counsel for Brink moved that the case be dismissed for want of jurisdiction in the court below. Much law was quoted on both sides.
The court decided that the mayor had jurisdiction but the municipal court had not, being authorized only by the charter to try appeals in cases arising under the ordinances of the city. The case arose under the statutes of Illinois, and should have been appealed directly to the Circuit Court, and dismissed the appeal accordingly; and then stated that a legal bond for appeal was not presented till after the twenty days had expired, and therefore it could not now be legally appealed to the Circuit Court.
After adjournment, while conversing with Dr. Brink and Mr. Marr, I told them I had been called to thousands of cases in sickness, and I have never failed in administering comfort where the patient has thrown himself unreservedly on me, and the reason is that I never prescribed anything that would injure the patient, if it did him no good.
I have lost a father, brother, and child, because in my anxiety I depended more on the judgment of other men than my own, while I have raised up others who were lower than they were. By-the-by, I will say that that man, (pointing to Levi Richards) is the best physician I have ever been acquainted with. People will seldom die of disease, provided we know it seasonably, and treat it mildly, patiently and perseveringly, and do not use harsh means.
It is like the Irishman’s digging down the mountain. He does not put his shoulder to it to push it over, but puts it in his wheelbarrow, and carries it away day after day, and perseveres in it until the whole mountain is removed. So we should persevere in the use of simple remedies, and not push against the constitution of the patient, day after day; and the disease will be removed and the patient saved. It is better to save the life of a man than to raise one from the dead.
At three p.m. I met with Brigham Young, William Smith, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, Geo. A. Smith, and Willard Richards, of the quorum of the Twelve, in my office, and told them to go in the name of the Lord God of Israel, and tell Lucien Woodworth to put the hands on the Nauvoo House, and begin the work, and be patient till means can be provided.
Call on the inhabitants of Nauvoo, and get them to bring in their means, then go to La Harpe and serve them the same. Thus commence your career, “and never stand still the Master appears:” for it is necessary the house should be built. Out of the stock that is handed to me, you shall receive as you have need; for the laborer is worthy of his hire.
I hereby command the hands to go to work on the house. Tell Woodworth to put them on and he shall be backed up in it. You must get cash, property, lands, horses, cattle, flour, corn, wheat, &c. The grain can be ground in this place.
If you can get hands onto the Nauvoo House, it will give such an impetus to the work, that it will take all the devils out of hell to stop it.
Let the Twelve Apostles keep together. You will do more good to keep together, not travel together all the time, but meet in conference from place to place, and associate together, and not be found long apart from each other. Then travel from here to Maine, till you make a perfect highway for the Saints.
It is better for you to be together; for it is difficult for a man to have strength of lungs and health to be instant in season and out of season, under all circumstances; and you can assist each other. And when you go to spend a day or two in a place, you will find the people will gather together in great companies. If twelve men cannot build that house, they are poor tools.
President Young asked if any of the Twelve should go to England.
I replied—No! I don’t want the Twelve to go to England this year. I have sent them to England, and they have broken the ice, and done well. And now I want to send some of the elders and try them.
Lorenzo Snow may stay at home till he gets rested. The Twelve must travel to save their lives. I feel all the veins and strata necessary for the Twelve to move in to save their lives.
You can never make anything out of Benjamin Winchester if you take him out of the channel he wants to be in. Send Samuel James to England, thus saith the Lord; also Reuben Hedlock; he ought to be a heavenly messenger wherever he goes. You need not be in a hurry. Send these two now; and when you think of some others, send them.
John Taylor, I believe you can do more good in the editorial department than preaching. You can write for thousands to read; while you can preach to but a few at a time. We have no one else we can trust the paper with, and hardly with you, for you suffer the paper to come out with so many mistakes.
Parley may stay at home and build his house.
Brother George A. Smith, I don’t know how I can help him to a living, but to let him go and preach. If he will go, his lungs will hold out. The Lord will give him a good pair of lungs yet.
Wilford Woodruff can be spared from the printing office. If you both stay, you will disagree. I want Orson Pratt should go.
Brother Brigham asked if he should go. Yes, go.
I want John E. Page to be called away from Pittsburgh, and a good elder sent in his place. If he stays there much longer, he will get so as to sleep with his granny, he is so self-righteous. When he asked to go back there, he was going to tear up all Pittsburgh; and he cannot even get money enough to pay postage on his letters, or come and make us a visit.
Orson Hyde can go and travel; and I want you all to meet in Boston.
I want Elder Willard Richards to continue in the History at present. Perhaps he will have to travel some to save his life. The History is going out by little and little, in the papers, and cutting its way; so that, when it is completed, it will not raise a persecution against us.
When Lyman Wight comes home from Kirtland, I intend to send him right back again.
William Smith is going East with his sick wife.
Brother Kimball will also travel.
I want you to cast up a highway for the Saints from here to Maine.
Don’t be scared about the Temple. Don’t say anything against it, but make all men know that your mission is to build up the Nauvoo House.
It is not necessary that Jedediah and Joshua Grant should be ordained High Priests in order to preside. They are too young. They have got into Zebedee Coltrin’s habit of clipping half their words, and I intend to break them of it. If a high priest comes along, and goes to snub either of them in their presidency, because they are Seventies, let them knock the man’s teeth down his throat—I mean spiritually. You shall make a mighty wake as you go.
William Clayton, tell the Temple committee to put hands enough on that house (on the diagonal corner from the brick store), and finish it right off. The Lord hath need of other houses as well as a Temple.
I can sell $10,000 worth of property this spring, I will meet you at any conference in Maine, or any conference where you are, and stay as long as it is wisdom.
Take Jacob Zundall and Frederick H. Moeser, and tell them never to drink a drop of ale, wine, or any spirit, only that which flows right out from the presence of God; and send them to Germany; and when you meet with an Arab, send him to Arabia; when you find an Italian, send him to Italy; and a Frenchman, to France; or an Indian, that is suitable, send him among the Indians. Send them to the different places where they belong. Send somebody to Central America and to all Spanish America; and don’t let a single corner of the earth go without a mission.
Write to Oliver Cowdery and ask him if he has not eaten husks long enough? If he is not almost ready to return, be clothed with robes of righteousness, and go up to Jerusalem? Orson Hyde hath need of him. (A letter was written accordingly.)
I returned home about half-past four p.m.
This evening located the site for a music hall on lot 4, block 67, on the corner of Woodruff and Young streets.
By a certificate of William Smith, of this date, we learn that Elder Benjamin Winchester has recently published a synopsis of concordance to the scriptures.
Thursday, 20.—I went out with Brother Manhard to show him some lots, and settled with him; and afterwards heard read a proof sheet of the elders’ conference.
Sidney Rigdon’s Alarm.
Elder Rigdon received a letter last Sunday, informing him that the Nauvoo post office was abolished. He foolishly supposed it genuine, neglected his duty, and started for Carthage to learn more about it, but was met by Mr. Hamilton, an old mail contractor, who satisfied him it was a hoax; and he returned home, and the mail arrived as usual today.
Friday, 21.—I rode out in the city, and in the afternoon went to my farm.
There was an officer’s drill of the Nauvoo Legion.
Nauvoo Legion Drill.
Saturday, 22.—The cohorts of the legion were in exercise this day. My staff came out with me, and spent the day in riding, exercising, and organizing, and sitting in court-martial, to ascertain to what staff Robert D. Foster, Surgeon-General, Hugh McFall, Adjudant-General, and Daniel H. Wells, Commissary-General, belonged.
Sunday, 23.—Nine to ten a.m. at home; heard read Truthiana, No. 6, also the minutes of special conference, which I revised.
Eleven, a.m., meeting at the Temple-stand; Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, George A. Smith, and Willard Richards present.
Orson Hyde prayed.
President Brigham Young preached on the subject of salvation, and the Twelve commenced their mission to build the Nauvoo House. For the salvation of the Church it was necessary that the public buildings should be erected, etc.
Parley P. Pratt preached in the afternoon, showing the rapid progress of Nauvoo during the past three years.
Peter Haws called for twenty-five hands to go with him to the Pine country, to get lumber for the Nauvoo House.
President Brigham Young instructed the laborers on the Nauvoo House to commence next morning, even if they had to beg food of their neighbors to commence with; and requested families to board hands till means could be procured.
Monday, 24.—In the morning I took my children a pleasure ride in the carriage.
Visit of the Twelve to Augusta, Iowa.
At one p.m. President Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, John Taylor, George A. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and Willard Richards met in council in my office, and agreed to go to Augusta, Iowa, to spend the next Sabbath and devise means to secure the property which has been purchased of Moffat by the Nauvoo House trustees, and voted John Cairnes go on a mission to England; Peter Haws and James Brown to Tuscaloosa, Alabama; that Elder Murray Seaman be instructed to return home immediately; and that Mr. Lucien Woodworth be respectfully requested immediately to furnish the Twelve with a draft of the exterior and interior of the Nauvoo House.
Prince Louis Napoleon, claimant of the imperial throne of France, writes from his prison at Ham to the Parisian journals—”I would prefer captivity on the French soil to freedom in exile.”
Tuesday, 25.—In the office in the morning, and heard read the proceedings of the Twelve Apostles yesterday.
Lucius N. Scovil and other Masons came to see me concerning Henry G. Sherwood, when I was told that Grand Master G. M. Nye was dead, which caused the following remark:—
The Prophet’s Remarks on G. M. Nye.
When Nye was here trying to pull me by the nose and trample on me, I enquired of the Lord if I was to be led by the nose and cuffed about by such a man. I received for answer, “Wait a minute.” Nye is dead; and any man or Mason who attempts to ride me down and oppress me will run against the boss of Jehovah’s buckler and will be quickly moved out of the way. Nye was a hypocritical Presbyterian preacher, and was known to have committed adultery in this city and violated his oath as a Master Mason. He started an opposition lodge on the hill, called the Nye Lodge; on which subject I said, they will do us all the injury they can; but let them go ahead, although it will result in a division of the lodge. Nye, fearing the penalty of the city ordinances on adultery, speedily fled from Nauvoo, and soon after died suddenly in Iowa.
At three-and-a-quarter p.m. rain fell in torrents, and wind blew strong from the north west. Several barns were blown down. So dark for fifteen minutes, could not see to write. Considerable hail fell. The creeks rose very high. The land covered with water.
Wednesday, 26.—At home. Squally and cold weather.
Received of Wilford Woodruff a deed of north half of lot 4, block 12, on Kimball’s second addition, valued at $50 on tithing.
Thursday, 27.—At eleven a.m. sat in mayor’s court, when Jonathan Ford proved a stolen horse to be his.
Visited at Brother Heber C. Kimball’s with William Clayton.
The Nye Lodge was installed on the hill.
English state documents show an annual loss of Σ3,000,000 and 1,000 lives on the coast of Portsmouth, for want of harbors of refuge.
Friday, 28.—At home.
Saturday, 29.—Rode out to the prairie with my brothers, William and Samuel, and John Topham, and apportioned a lot between Sister Mullholland and John Scott.
Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Joseph Young, and Peter Haws rode to Augusta, Iowa.
Sunday, 30.—The brethren held a meeting at Augusta, and had a good time. About 200 Saints were present. Augusta is a flourishing little town. There are three saw mills and two flour mills, having excellent water privileges. At ten a.m. a trial commenced before the First Presidency, Graham Coltrin 5. Anson Matthews, being an appeal from the High Council on complaint—
Minutes of a High Council Meeting—Coltrin vs. Matthew.
First, for a failure in refusing to perform according to contract respecting the sale of a piece of land by him [Matthews] sold to me [Coltrin]. Second for transferring his [Matthews] property in a way to enable him to bid defiance to the result and force of law, and to evade the aforesaid contracts, thereby wronging me [Coltrin] out of my just claim to the same; and also for lying, etc.
Witnesses for plaintiff—Henry G. Sherwood, N. G. Blodgett, Zebedee Coltrin, Father Coltrin.
Witnesses for the defense—Two affidavits of George Reads, Mrs. Matthews, Brother Browett, Samuel Thompson, Richard Slater.
Decision of the Council is that the charges are not sustained.”
Monday, May, 1.—I rode out with Lucien Woodworth, and paid him Σ20 for the Nauvoo House, which I borrowed of William Allen.
Comment of the Prophtet on the Kinderhook Plates.
I insert fac-similes of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook, in Pike county, Illinois, on April 23, by Mr. Robert Wiley and others, while excavating a large mound. They found a skeleton about six feet from the surface of the earth, which must have stood nine feet high. The plates were found on the breast of the skeleton and were covered on both sides with ancient characters.
I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.
I quote the following editorial from the Times and Seasons:—
Circumstances are daily transpiring which give additional testimony to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. A few years ago, although supported by indubitable, unimpeachable testimony, it was looked upon in the same light by the world in general, and by the religious world in particular, as the expedition of Columbus to this continent was by the different courts that he visited, and laid his project before. The literati looked upon his expedition as wild and visionary, they suspected very much the integrity of his pretensions, and looked upon him—to say the least—as a fool, for entertaining such wild and visionary views. The royal courts aided by geographers, thought it was impossible that another continent should or could exist; and they were assisted in their views by the learned clergy, who, to put the matter beyond all doubt, stated that it was contrary to Scripture; that the apostles preached to all the world, and that as they did not came to America, it was impossible that there should be any such place. Thus at variance with the opinions of the great, in opposition to science and religion, he set sail, and actually came to America; it was no dream, no fiction; but a solid reality; and however unphilosophical and infidel the notion might be, men had to believe it; and it was soon found out that it would agree both with religion and philosophy.
So when the Book of Mormon first made its appearance among men, it was looked upon by many as a wild speculation, and that it was dangerous to the interest and happiness of the religious world. But when it was found to teach virtue, honesty, integrity, and pure religion, this objection was laid aside as being untenable.
We were then told that the inhabitants of this continent were and always had been a rude, barbarous race, uncouth, unlettered, and without civilization. But when they were told of the various relics that have been found indicative of civilization, intelligence, and learning,—when they were told of the wealth, architecture, and splendor of ancient Mexico,—when recent developments proved beyond a doubt that there are ancient ruins in Central America, which, in point of magnificence, beauty, strength, and architectural design, vie with any of the most splendid ruins on the Asiatic Continent,—when they could trace the fine delineations of the sculptor’s chisel on the beautiful statue, the mysterious hieroglyphic, and the unknown character, they began to believe that a wise, powerful, intelligent, and scientific race had inhabited this continent; but still it was improbable—nay almost impossible, notwithstanding the testimony of history to the contrary, that anything like plates could have been used anciently, particularly among this people.
The following letter and certificate will perhaps have a tendency to convince the skeptical that such things have been used and that even the obnoxious Book of Mormon may be true. And as the people in Columbus’ day were obliged to believe that there was such a place as America, so will the people in this day be obliged to believe, however reluctantly, that there may have been such plates as those from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
Mr. Smith has had those plates, what his opinion concerning them is, we have not yet ascertained. The gentleman that owns them has taken them away, or we should have given a fac-simile of the plates and characters in this number. We are informed however, that he purposes returning with them for translation, if so, we may be able yet to furnish our readers with it.
It will be seen by the annexed statement of the Quincy Whig, that there are more dreamers and money-diggers than Joseph Smith in the world; and the worthy editor is obliged to acknowledge that this circumstance will go a good way to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. He further states that “if Joseph Smith can decipher the hieroglyphics on the plates, he will do more towards throwing light on the early history of this continent than any man living.” We think that he has done that already in translating and publishing the Book of Mormon, and would advise the gentleman and all interested to read for themselves and understand. We have no doubt, however, but Mr. Smith will be able to translate them.
To the editor of the Times and Seasons.
On the 16th of April last, a respectable merchant, by the name of Robert Wiley, commenced digging in a large mound near this place; he excavated to the depth of ten feet and came to rock. About that time the rain began to fall, and he abandoned the work.
On the 23rd, he and quite a number of the citizens, with myself, repaired to the mound; and after making ample opening, we found plenty of rock, the most of which appeared as though it had been strongly burned; and after removing full two feet of said rock, we found plenty of charcoal and ashes; also human bones that appeared as though they had been burned; and near the encephalon a bundle was found that consisted of six plates of brass of a bell shape, each having a hole near the small end, and a ring through them all, and clasped with two clasps. The rings and clasps appeared to be iron very much oxydated. The plates appeared first to be copper, and had the appearance of being covered with characters.
It was agreed by the company that I should cleanse the plates. Accordingly I took them to my house, washed them with soap and water and a woolen cloth; but, finding them not yet cleansed, I treated them with dilute sulphuric acid, which made them perfectly clean, on which it appeared that they were completely covered with hieroglyphics that none as yet have been able to read.
Wishing that the world might know the hidden things as fast as they come to light, I was induced to state the facts, hoping that you would give it an insertion in your excellent paper; for we all feel anxious to know the true meaning of the plates, and publishing the facts might lead to the true translation.
They were found, I judged, more than twelve feet below the surface of the top of the mound.
I am, most respectfully, a citizen of Kinderhook,
W. P. Harris, M. D.
We, the citizens of Kinderhook, whose names are annexed, do certify and declare that on the 23rd of April, 1843, while excavating a large mound in this vicinity, Mr. R. Wiley took from said mound six brass plates of a bell shape, covered with ancient characters. Said plates were very much oxydated. The bands and rings on said plates mouldered into dust on a slight pressure.
Robert Wiley, W. Longnecker, Geo. Deckenson,
Fayette Grubb, W. Fugate, W. P. Harris,
J. R. Sharp, G. W. F. Ward, Ira S. Curtis,
(From the Quincy Whig.)
Singular Discovery.—Material for Another Mormon Book.
A Mr. J. Roberts of Pike County, called upon us last Monday with a written description of a discovery which was recently made near Kinderhook, in that county. We have not room for his communication at length, and will give so much of a summary of it, as will enable the reader to form a pretty correct opinion of the discovery made.
It appeared that a young man by the name of Wiley, a resident in Kinderhook, dreamed three nights in succession, that in a certain mound In the vicinity, there were treasures concealed. Impressed with the strange occurrence of dreaming the same dream three nights in succession, he came to the conclusion to satisfy his mind by digging into the mound. For fear of being laughed at, if he made others acquainted with his design he went by himself and labored diligently one day in pursuit of the supposed treasure, by sinking a hole in the center of a mound.
Finding it quite laborious, he invited others to assist him. A company of ten or twelve repaired to the mound and assisted in digging out the shaft commenced by Wiley. After penetrating the mound about eleven feet, they came to a bed of limestone that had been subjected to the action of fire. They removed the stones, which were small and easy to handle, to the depth of two feet more, when they found six brass plates, secured and fastened together by two iron wires, but which were so decayed that they readily crumbled to dust upon being handled.
The plates were so completely covered with rust as almost to obliterate the characters inscribed upon them; but, after undergoing a chemical process, the inscriptions were brought out plain and distinct.
There were six plates, four inches in length, one inch and three-quarters wide at the top, and two inches and three-quarters wide at the bottom, flaring out to points. There are four lines of characters or hieroglyphics on each. On one side of the plates are parallel lines running lengthways.
By whom these plates were deposited there must ever remain a secret, unless some one skilled in deciphering hieroglyphics may be found to unravel the mystery. Some pretend to say that Smith, the Mormon leader, has the ability to read them. If he has, he will confer a great favor on the public by removing the mystery which hangs over them. A person present when the plates were found remarked that it would go to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, which it undoubtedly will.
In the place where these plates were deposited were also found human bones in the last stage of decomposition. There were but few bones found; and it is believed that it was but the burial-place of a person or family of distinction in ages long gone by, and that these plates contain the history of the times, or of a people that existed far, far beyond the memory of the present race. But we will not conjecture anything about this wonderful discovery, as it is one which the plates alone can reveal.
The plates above alluded to were exhibited in this city last week, and are now, we understand, in Nauvoo, subject to the inspection of the Mormon Prophet. The public curiosity is greatly excited; and if Smith can decipher the hieroglyphics on the plates, he will do more towards throwing light on the early history of this continent than any man now living. 1
Slavery was this day abolished in every part of the British dominions in India, under the administration of Lord Ellenborough.
Tuesday, 2.—Rode out in the forenoon. About three p.m., the Maid of Iowa arrived from St. Louis. I was on the bank of the river, awaiting the arrival of my wife, who returned with Lorin Walker.
Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Joseph Young returned from Augusta, Iowa.
John E. Page wrote me a letter, wanting to dispose of Church property and establish a printing press in Pittsburgh, on which I directed the Twelve to send him to Liberia, or some other place, in order to save him.
About one p.m., the mate of the ship Yorkshire opened the Testament at the 27th chapter of Acts, and asked the passengers how they would feel to be shipwrecked like Paul? Elder Thomas Bullock replied instantly, “It is very likely we shall be shipwrecked; but the hull of this old vessel has got to carry us safe into New Orleans.” The mate was then called away to hoist the fore-top-royal sail.
Between one and two next morning, when off Cape St. Antonio, Cuba, there was much vivid lightning, when a white squall caught the fore-top-royal sail, which careened the vessel, when the foremast, mainmast, and mizzenmast snapped asunder with an awful crash; the whole of the masts above, with the jib and spanker, and sixteen sails and studding poles, were carried overboard with a tremendous splash and surge, when the vessel righted. Daybreak, found the deck all in confusion and a complete wreck. During the day, hoisted a sail from the stump of the mainmast to the bow of the vessel, thus leaving nothing but the hull of the vessel to carry the Saints into New Orleans.
Wednesday, 3.—Called at the office and drank a glass of wine with Sister Jenetta Richards, made by her mother in England, and reviewed a portion of the conference minutes.
Two p.m., mayor’s court, “City versus A. Gay,” on complaint of William Law, for unbecoming language and refusing to leave the store when told to. Fined $5 and costs.
Directed a letter to be written to Gen. James Adams, of Springfield, to have him meet the Maid of Iowa on her return from St. Louis, and arrange with the proprietors to turn her into a Nauvoo ferry boat, which letter was written the same hour.
This day the first number of the Nauvoo Neighbor was issued by John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, in place of the Wasp, which ceased; and I here insert the first editorial:—
Editorial from the Nauvoo Neighbor.
We now, according to promise, present our young friend before the world in his new dress and with his new name. As the last week has been one of the warm weeks in the spring, when vegetation springs forth and life and animation are given to the vegetable world, so our efforts to cultivate the plant of Intelligence, having been watered by industry, enlivened by perseverance, and warmed by the genial rays of patronage, have not been unsuccessful; for the young gentleman has grown in one short week to double his former size.
Relative to his dress, we have to apologize a little. As we did not live near a store, we could not get all the trimmings which we could have desired, to have made him pass so well with the elite in the fashionable world. However, among plain folks, he will now pass very well; and we soon expect to see him in a form that will suit the taste of the most fastidious.
Relative to the course that we shall pursue, we shall endeavor to cultivate a friendly feeling towards all, and not interfere with the rights of others, either politically or religiously. We shall advocate the cause of the innocent and oppressed, uphold the cause of right, sustain the principles of republicanism, and fly to the succor of the helpless and forlorn, pouring in oil and wine to their wounds, and acting in every way to all the human family in the capacity that our name imports—viz., that of a Neighbor.
We have had and may have to defend ourselves against the oppressions, persecutions, and innovations of men. And if this should be the case, we shall not shrink from the task, but shall fearlessly and unflinchingly defend our rights, sustaining that liberty which our glorious constitution guarantees to every American citizen, for which our fathers jeopardized their liberty, their lives, and their sacred honor.
Amidst the warring elements that are disturbing the world, we are glad to find so amiable and friendly a spirit manifested to us at the present time by the press; and we can assure them that, so long as they let us alone, we shall not interfere with them.
It has been our study to avoid contention, and we have never interfered with others until they have thrown down the gauntlet; and as we have not been up to the present the aggressors so we are determined for the future not to be the aggressors.
We have always endeavored to cultivate a spirit of friendship, amity, and peace with mankind. If we have not succeeded, the fault has not been with us. Rumor, with her ten thousand tongues, has always been busy circulating falsehood and misrepresentation concerning us; and then have frequently, in the absence of correct information, entertained unfavorable opinions concerning us, and have spoken as they thought: but when they have been better informed, they have regretted their course, and have seen that calumny has been like a viper in our path and has stung like an adder.
In regard to our political rights, our religion has frequently been made use of by political demagogues as a bugbear to deprive us of the free untrammelled rights of American citizens. This is a thing that we have always protested against, and we always shall, so long as that blood that fired the bosoms of our ancestors who fought, bled, and died, in defense of equal rights, flows through our veins.
Concerning religion we consider that all men have a right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience. And while we allow all men freely to enjoy this privilege untrammeled by us, we look upon all men that would abridge us or others in their religious rights as enemies to the constitution, recreant to the principles of republicanism; and whilst they render themselves despicable, they are striking a secret but deadly blow at the freedom of this great republic; and their withering influence, though unseen and unobserved by the many, is like a worm gnawing the very vitals of the tree of liberty. We shall always contend for our religious rights. In short, the liberty of the press, liberty of conscience and of worship, free discussion, sailors’ rights, we shall always sustain.
Thursday, 4.—At four p.m., heard read a letter from James Arlington Bennett, showing that he was sick and could not attend the inspection of the Nauvoo Legion, according to his appointment.
Having received a letter from George W. Robinson in relation to his land difficulties, I went to Sidney Rigdon and procured a deed for Carlos Granger’s farm, and settled that business.
Friday, 5.—Told the Temple committee that I had a right to take away any property I chose from the Temple office or store, and they had no right to stand in the way. It is the people that are to dictate me, and not the committee. All the property I have belongs to the Temple, and what I do is for the benefit of the Temple; and you have no authority only as you receive it from me.
Received the following:—
Letter of H. R. Hotchkiss to Joseph Smith—Property Titles.
New York, 7th April, 1843.
Joseph Smith, Esq.
Dear Sir:—I received on Saturday last a letter from Mr. Catlin, notifying me that the equity of redemption in my Nauvoo property would be sold on the 12th instant, and asking me whether I wished it to be purchased for me. I suppose it is quite immaterial whether I or you hold the right of redeeming; for if it should again come into my possession, I wish it understood distinctly by them who have built upon it that I shall not attempt to take their buildings from them, but shall be ready at any time to give them a lease of their lots for a very long period, at a reasonable rent. My wish, as well as my interest, leads me to conciliate and make them my friends, instead of making them my enemies.
Your obedient servant,
H. R. Hotchkiss.
Which I recorded in the City Record of Deeds:—
Hotchkiss Letter Recorded.
Recorder’s Office, May 5, 1843.
State of Illinois,
City of Nauvoo ss.
I, Joseph Smith, recorder in and for the said city of Nauvoo, Hancock county, and state aforesaid, do hereby certify that the within letter was duly recorded in Book A, page 140, and numbered 134.
Joseph Smith, Recorder.
By William Clayton, Clerk.
Saturday, 6.—In the morning, had an interview with a lecturer on Mesmerism and Phrenology. Objected to his performing in the city. Also had an interview with a Methodist preacher, and conversed about his God without body or parts.
At half-past nine a.m., I mounted with my staff, and with the band, and about a dozen ladies, led by Emma, and proceeded to the general parade-ground of the Nauvoo Legion, east of my farm on the prairie. The Legion looked well—better than on any former occasion, and they performed their evolutions in admirable style.
The officers did honor to the Legion. Many of them were equipped and armed cap-a-pie. The men were in good spirits. They had made great improvements both in uniform and discipline, and we felt proud to be associated with a body of men, which, in point of discipline, uniform, appearance, and a knowledge of military tactics, are the pride of Illinois, one of its strongest defenses, and a great bulwark of the western country.
In the course of my remarks on the prairie, I told the Legion that when we have petitioned those in power for assistance, they have always told us they had no power to help us. Damn such traitors! When they give me the power to protect the innocent, I will never say I can do nothing for their good; I will exercise that power, so help me God. At the close of the address, the Legion marched to the city and disbanded in Main Street, about two p.m., the day being windy and very cold.
There were two United States officers and General Swazey, of Iowa, present, who expressed great satisfaction at our appearance and evolutions.
In the evening, attended Mr. Vicker’s performance of wire dancing, legerdemain, magic, etc.
A conference was held at Toulon, Stark county, Illinois:5 branches, 17 elders, 3 priests, 4 teachers,
2 deacons, and 129 members were represented.
A branch has been recently organized at Lyons, Wayne county, New York, consisting of two elders, 1 priest, 1 teacher, and 22 members.
Sunday, 7.—In the forenoon I was visited by several gentlemen, concerning the plates that were dug out near Kinderhook.
The council of the First Presidency met.
Elder Brigham Young preached at La Harpe.
Monday, 8.—I called at the office at seven a.m., with a supersedeas to stay suit, Thompson versus Dixon.
John Scott was unwilling to give Sister Mulholland one-fourth of the lot as directed by me.
Steam Boat Excursion.
Tuesday, 9.—In company with my wife, mother, and my adult family, also Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and about one hundred gentlemen and ladies, went aboard the Maid of Iowa, started at ten minutes before eight a.m., from the Nauvoo dock, under a salute of cannon, having on board a fine band of music.
We had an excellent address from our esteemed friend, Parley P. Pratt. The band performed its part well. Much good humor and hilarity prevailed. The captain and officers on board did all they could to make us comfortable, and we had a very agreeable and pleasant trip.
We started with the intention of visiting Augusta; but, in consequence of the lowness of Shunk river, it was impracticable. We therefore altered our course to Burlington, touching at Fort Madison on our way up, and at Shokoquon on our return.
In consequence of the governor of Iowa having refused to withdraw a writ reported to have been issued on a demand from the executive of Missouri, on the same charge as that for which I had been discharged by Judge Pope, I dispensed with the pleasure of calling upon my friends in Burlington and Fort Madison. During our stay at those places, I kept myself concealed on the boat.
The Maid of Iowa did well. Her accommodations are good for the size of the boat, and she performed her trip in less time than we anticipated, and we returned home about eight p.m.
Wednesday, 10.—Directed Dr. Willard Richards never to let the court-room be occupied by any person until he received $2 in advance.
The blossoms on the apple and other trees appeared.
Took my brother William, Elders Jedediah M. Grant, Ebenezer Robinson and Horace K. Whitney in my carriage to the Upper Steam Boat Landing and back, They were intending to start on their missions, but no steamboat came.
A meeting of the Saints was held at Leechburgh, Pennsylvania, numbered 5 elders, 2 priests, 1 teacher, and 50 members.
Thursday, 11.—At six a.m., baptized Louisa Beeman, Sarah Alley, and others.
Eight a.m., went to see the new carriage made by Thomas Moore, which was ready for traveling. Emma went to Quincy in the new carriage. I rode out as far as the prairie.
Ten a.m., Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, John Taylor, and Willard Richards assembled in council, and voted—
That Addison Pratt, Noah Rogers, Benjamin F. Grouard, and Knowlton F. Hanks go on a mission to the Pacific Isles; Captain Dan Jones prepare himself to take a mission to Wales; James Sloan go to Ireland; Reuben Hedlock, John Cairnes and Samuel James to England, and that Reuben Hedlock preside over the Church in Great Britain, and be assisted by Elders Hiram Clark and Thomas Ward; that Brother Cairnes go to Scotland, Lucius N. Scovil to England, under the direction of Brother Hedlock; and that Amos Fielding come immediately to Nauvoo, or be cut off from the Church. Also, that this quorum recommend George Walker to President Joseph Smith, as clerk of the Nauvoo House.
President Young stated that Lucien Woodworth had offered the use of his draft for the Nauvoo House, table, etc., if any one would copy it; but he had not time to comply with the request of the quorum to furnish a full draft.
Friday, 12.—Purchased half of the steamer Maid of Iowa, from Moffatt; and Captain Dan Jones commenced running her between Nauvoo and Montrose as a ferry-boat.
At sunrise, Bishop George Miller arrived with a raft of 50,000 feet of pine lumber for the Temple and Nauvoo House, from the pinery on Black River, Wisconsin, where the snow was about 2 1/2 feet deep in the winter.
In the council of the Twelve it was agreed to visit Lima, La Harpe, and Ramus, and hold conferences concerning the Nauvoo House.
1. It is proper here to call attention to the fact that the genuineness of this discovery of the Kinderhook plates is questioned by some anti-Mormon writers, among them Professor William A. Linn in his late work The Story of Mormonism. In which, after citing the fact that both John Hyde and T. B. H. Stenhouse—both anti-Mormon authors—accept the genuineness of the discovery of the Kinderhook plates, which led the first in his Mormonism to insist that “Smith did have plate of some kind,” in connection with the putting forth of the Book of Mormon; and the second to say of the Kinderhook plates that they were “actually and unquestionably discovered by one Mr. R. Wiley”—he says:
“But the true story of the Kinderhook plates was disclosed by an affidavit made by W. Fugate of Mound Station, Brown county, Illinois, before Jay Brown, justice of the peace, on June 30, 1879. In this he stated that the plates were a humbug gotten up by Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitton, and myself. Whitton (who was a blacksmith) cut the plates out of some pieces of copper; Wiley and I made the hieroglyphics by making impressions on beeswax and filling them with acid, old iron and lead, and bound them with a piece of hoop iron, covering them completely with the rust. He describes the burial of the plates and their digging up among the spectators of the latter being two Mormon Elders, Marsh and Sharp. Sharp declared that the Lord had directed them to witness the digging. The plates were borrowed and shown to Smith, and were finally given to one Professor McDowell of St. Louis, for his museum.” (The Story of the Mormons, Linn, p. 87.)
Of this presentation of the matter it is only necessary to say that it is a little singular that Mr. Fugate alone out of the three said to be in collusion in perpetrating the fraud should disclose it, and that he should wait from 1843 to 1879—a period of thirty-six years—before doing so, when he and those said to be associated with him had such an excellent opportunity to expose the vain pretensions of the Prophet—if Fugate’s tale be true—during his life time. For while the statement in the text of the Prophet’s journal to the effect that the find was genuine, and that he had translated some of the characters and learned certain historical facts concerning the person with whose remains the plates were found, may not have been known at the time to the alleged conspirators to deceive him still it is quite apparent that the editor of the Times and Seasons—John Taylor, the close personal friend of the Prophet—took the find seriously, and expressed implicit confidence in his editorial that the Prophet could give a translation of the plates. And this attitude the Church continued to maintain; for in The Prophet, (a Mormon weekly periodical, published in New York) of the 15th of February, 1845, there was published a facsimile of the Kinderhook plates, together with the Times and Seasons editorial and all the above matter of the text. How easy to have covered Joseph Smith and his followers with ridicule by proclaiming the hoax as soon as they accepted the Kinderhook plates as genuine! Why was it not done? The fact that Fugate’s story was not told until thirty-six years after the event, and that he alone of all those who were connected with the event gives that version of it, is rather strong evidence that his story is the hoax, not the discovery of the plates, nor the engravings upon them.
“The plates,” says Professor Linn, “were finally given to one ‘Professor’ McDowell of St. Louis, for his museum.” This on the authority of Wyl’s Mormon Portraits, (p.207). And Professor Linn in a note adds: “The secretary of the Missouri Historical Society writes me that McDowell’s museum disappeared some time ago, most of its contents being lost or stolen, and the fate of the Kinderhook plates cannot be ascertained.” (Story of the Mormons, p. 87 and footnote.)